By George Hartrey – reporter
Former New Zealand winger and rugby legend Jonah Lomu has passed away in his home town of Auckland at the age of 40.
The news of Lomu’s passing broke at 00:35 this morning, just weeks after he was in England to provide punditry on the Rugby World Cup.
After making 63 international appearances and scoring 37 tries for New Zealand, the 6’ 5” winger was forced in to early retirement at the age of just 27.
In 1995, the All-Black had been diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease, which led to a kidney transplant in 2004.
He was known for his surging runs as he bulldozed through his opponents, and when he broke on to the scene at the 1995 World Cup, 20-year-old Lomu scored seven tries.
Following his final World Cup appearance in the 1999 third-place play off against South Africa, Lomu had racked up a total of 15 World Cup tries, only being equalled by the Springboks’ Brian Habana after this year’s tournament.
His affect on the game is one that cannot be underestimated.
From a very early age Lomu was seen to be dominating sport, especially in his school achievements, which in 1989 saw him win ten of 14 events at his school sports day, including 100m, shotput and long jump.
Not only was he a sensational rugby player, but an all-round athlete.
His impact at the 1995 World Cup sent shockwaves through the world of rugby.
All of a sudden this 20-year-old winger, who started his career in the forwards as an open-side flanker, was on the lips of every national team coach as the man to watch out for.
Perhaps most famous of all was his performance against England in the semi-final of his first World Cup.
Scoring four tries, Lomu single-handedly tore the English backs to shreds, sending his national team soaring in to the final against South Africa.
With everything Jonah Lomu brought to the game, it’s incredibly surprising to learn that he never managed to get his hands on the World Cup as a player.
Being the leading try scorer in both tournaments he appeared in, his immense presence was sorely missed as Australia hosted the 2003 edition of the World Cup, which England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson won in emphatic and memorable fashion.
Dan Carter, who was part of the New Zealand side that made history by being the first team to retain the World Cup, expressed his reaction to Lomu’s death.
I still can't believe the sad news. Love & thoughts go out to Jonahs family #RIPJonah
— Dan Carter (@DanCarter) November 18, 2015
The passing of not only Lomu, but also of Jerry Collins, who unfortunately lost his life earlier this year following a road traffic collision, has undoubtedly shrouded a year of success for the All Blacks.
Tributes have taken place across New Zealand, including an awe-inspiring haka in Lomu’s memory at his former school, Wesley College.
His former club Cardiff Blues have also announced a tribute will take place in his honour before the European Challenge Cup tie against Harlequins on Thursday.
Everybody at Pluto offers their condolences to the friends and family of Jonah Lomu at this difficult and shocking time.
To join us in paying your respects tweet us @SportPluto #UCLanRIPJonahLomu